Prime Time Living - Page 16 - Many hands make light work

Prime Time Living
- Page 16
Many hands make light work
Volunteer opportunities just for you

By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer

With over 36,000 registered non-profits in the State of Maryland, there’s always an organization that would appreciate your assistance. Yes, donations are important, but the need for your time is just as valuable. Select one that will appreciate your energy, one where you’ll care about the success stories and gain a sense of accomplishment.

Throughout our lives, depending on our circumstances, most of us gave time to a non-profit. Friends’ stories are filled with news about a place where they give time. A favorite is my 86-year-old aunt who has spent three days a week for over 15 years as a classroom assistant, patiently explaining the alphabet and numbers to special needs children. Her conversations are filled with funny incidences and the outrageous comments from “her kids.”

As we shift from full-time to part-time to retirement, there are hours in the day when it would be nice to have something to do. It also gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Most of all, it’s nice to be appreciated, and these groups would value whatever you can do to chip in.

Baltimore Community ToolBank Picture a cavernous warehouse filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars of tools of every shape and size – and then some – available to your community group for an extremely low fee instead of having to buy them. That’s the Baltimore Community ToolBank ( www.baltimoretoolbank.org ), a place it is worth getting to know.

“We currently support over 500 different organizations,” Noah Smock, executive director, says, “and their thousands of volunteers. If your community organization needs tools – for landscaping, for cleanup, for special events, for painting, for carpentry and repairs – we probably have it. And the fee to use these tools is three percent of the retail price per week. So, for example, instead of buying a brand-new shop vac for $84, you can use one from us for $2.52 a week. Then you can use that savings to further your mission and do much more.”

Smock related one example. The South Baltimore Partnership ( www.fusiongroup.org/partners/South$20Baltimore$20Partnership ) hires youths 14-21 to be Green Team Environmental Stewards. It started with four young people and now it’s up to 25, each earning $9.25 per hour during the months of June, July and August. They work five hours a day, Monday through Friday. It saved enough by getting its landscaping implements – rakes, weeders, shovels, hoes and hedge trimmers, to name a few – from the ToolBank to hire one more young person who gained valuable job experience.

It also added a Junior Green Team for 21 kids, ages 8-13, who work on Saturdays. A civic association needed tables and chairs for its fund-raiser. The money saved went to expanding the services offered to residents. And this is true of all the groups that frequent the ToolBank. Other non-profits, schools and PTAs, faith-based groups, and tax-exempt organizations are member agencies.

But the Baltimore Community ToolBank needs volunteers, too. “With only three paid staff members, we need lots of assistance. If you’re looking for an opportunity to be someplace regularly, especially weekdays, we could really use your help,” says Smock. “You will help us keep our inventory clean, sharp and ready. Any training you need, we’ll provide, and knowledge of tools is not required. On average, we work with 60 or more partners each month, filling their orders for tools.”

One benefit of volunteering at the ToolBank is the exposure you’ll get to know a variety of non-profit organizations throughout Baltimore and supporting fellow communities.

The Loading Dock, Inc.

Tucked away in Southeast Baltimore, off Pulaski Highway, The Loading Dock, Inc. ( TLD: www.loadingdock.org ), “is the nation’s first successful, self-sufficient, nonprofit building materials reuse center,” according to its website. Started in 1984, its mission is to increase the supply and use of affordable building materials for housing and community improvement by redirecting landfill-bound, reusable materials into productive use. TLD’s slogan says it all: “You could build a house with what people throw away.”

Its self-serve warehouse has rooms galore, winding through 45,000 square feet, and each room has a theme, such as paint, fencing and railing, bathtubs, bathroom fixtures, cabinets, tile and granite, floor coverings, appliances, door, windows, and insulation. If you need it, TLD probably has it. As you wander around

Volunteer, continued on page 30